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GCS: Drug Shows Promise in Treating Rare, Midgut Cancer

Octreotide LAR slows progression in patients with malignant neuroendocrine tumors

THURSDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with rare malignant neuroendocrine tumors of the midgut, treatment with octreotide LAR -- a drug approved in the United States to treat certain pituitary gland disorders and to reduce diarrhea caused by other types of benign gastrointestinal tumors -- may significantly slow tumor progression, according to research presented at the sixth annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium held Jan. 15 to 17 in San Francisco.

Rudolf Arnold, M.D., of Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, and colleagues randomly assigned 85 patients with newly diagnosed disease to receive either octreotide LAR or placebo. Prior to enrollment, about 70 percent of the patients underwent surgery to remove the primary tumor while the others had inoperable disease. Liver metastases were observed in 86 percent of the subjects.

After six months, the researchers observed stable disease in 64 percent of octreotide LAR-treated patients compared to 37.2 percent of placebo patients. They also found that the median time to tumor progression was significantly longer in the octreotide LAR group (14.3 months versus 6.0 months) and that patients with localized disease tended to respond better to the drug than patients with multiple metastases. Treatment side-effects included diarrhea, fatigue, fever and bile stones.

"While malignant neuroendocrine tumors of the midgut are relatively rare, these findings are very good news for patients," Arnold said in a statement. "We believe our study will change the way that this disease is treated, providing the first drug option for patients who cannot be cured by surgery."

The research team disclosed receiving honoraria and research funding from Novartis.

Abstract

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